Now close your eyes.  What’s in your head?

We gather around that word.

We want good schools, the BEST schools for our kids.  Schools provide hope.  Schools help kids succeed.


And if we could just get rid of this discovery nonsense and get back to basics…

But is “school” what our kids need in this VUCA world, where computational speeds double every year, where “relevance” is a moving target?

And when we think of school, and the purpose of school, do we have the same things in our heads?

Maybe, as a senior education leader said to me last week, we need a whole new word.  A word that lets us begin again, start from scratch, build something new for 2017.

And what would we call it?

What other words are holding us back in education?

Photo on Unsplash by Eli Francis

What would you add to this list?

1. School

2. Blended Learning

3. eLearning

4. Cell Phones

5. Student Success

6. Professional Development

7. Student Achievement

This is Part 1 of a 5 day blog challenge #5posts5days issued by Carlo Fusco 

Please take time to read and comment on the other blogs:

Brandon Grasley on parenting: Learning at Home…

Carlo Fusco: Why Blog?

Chris Gamble on Tweet Cred: What makes some more credible than others?

Jessica Weber on What is Teaching?

Rolland Chidiac on New Fluencies


What is School For?

Stop Stealing Dreams

Featured image by Alan Levine CC-BY-2.0

8 thoughts on “School

  1. Great post Donna. You have me thinking about the need to replace the word school. I think it is closer to educating and learning but they don’t work either. “Just in time knowledge” like the way supply lines work in the auto industry?

    Thanks for giving me something to think about.

    1. Love these!

      Right now, I think even the word “cell phone” is problematic.

      In exponential times, is our language keeping up?

  2. Your post is really making me think, Donna. I’m wondering if it’s really the word itself, or we just have to get to the point of changing our thinking about the word to see actual change in education. Our new kindergarten program document is changing what “school” is all about. Will other grades follow suit? I really hope so!


    1. I know that many parents see “school” as it was when they were there. Teachers are often those who excelled at that structure, and don’t think outside of it in their practice. iI know your background is very different, but we see old practice perpetuated long after it no longer has meaning in times of exponential change.

      I think that Ontario’s Kindergarten Program document is one of the most brilliant pieces to come out of #onted in a long time. I use it in teaching about what eLearning can be in Ontario. But we must be diligent in challenging old thinking. We must challenge the meaning of “school” and think deeply, together, about what it is truly for.

      Thank you for engaging in this conversation.

  3. When you say ‘schools help kids succeed’ we have to stop and make sure that we all mean the same thing by success. For some teachers that might mean that kids are able to pass exams and tests and get good grades. Other teachers are thinking that success means students are critical thinkers who are responsible, caring and compassionate citizens both locally and globally.
    I think the words we choose to eliminate or elevate around education reflect our own personal beliefs on the purpose of education.
    Imagine, as Aviva said, if the grade 1 – 12 curriculum looked more like the K program document with an emphasis on learning skills and dispositions, rather than regurgitation of content? And what if the report cards for 1 – 12 looked like our new Kdg reports with comments on key learning, growth in learning and next steps for learning instead of grades and levels? Many AQ courses that we take as teachers are now pass/fail instead of grades. Would that change what school is all about? I know when I was in high school I avoided courses that were difficult for me so that I could keep my grades up and get into university. How is that helping students if we penalize them for challenging themselves?

    1. Oh, Lisa, you have said this so brilliantly.

      One of the phrases I want to challenge is “student success” because in my practice, I have seen this to mean taking the least engaged secondary students and putting them in front of soul-sucking content to get a credit and graduate them. What is the success of “graduating” kids who hate learning?

      And it is common practice for kids to drop all the courses they can’t get high marks in so they can get on to university or get a scholarship, even if the dropped courses are their passions.

      We have old structures that promote outdated practices that simply don’t work in 2017.

      Thank you for taking the time to state it much more eloquently than I am able to!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *